i was asked to contribute a recipe to the latest issue of guahan magazine, a local magazine (guahan is the ancient/chamoru name for 'guam'). so what did i write about? a hawaiian favourite, oxtail soup. ha.
actually, it's a dish of chinese origin that was embraced by the okinawan population in hawaii and modified; to make matters slightly more complicated, i offered a version that borrows heavily from vietnamese cuisine, with loads of fresh herbs and a bit of citrus to lift the meaty, gingery, star anise-scented soup. this is much like the oxtail soup that i've tried at the mermaid bar in the neiman-marcus in ala moana (don't laugh, it's good) in honolulu, but owes a lot to the straightforwardness of the soup at the kapiolani coffee shop. the essentials are the meat and gingery,spicy broth, and everything else is extra; it all depends on how simple or how complex you want it to be.
despite its lengthy ingredients list, there is little work involved; the hardest part will be waiting for it to be done. if you are proficient with a pressure cooker, your waiting time will be reduced significantly; if you lack the time, this recipe can be adapted for a crock pot--assemble it before work, and come home to delicious scents wafting from your kitchen.
addendum 05april06: this is one of those soups that tastes better the next day; it definitely benefits from an overnight stay in the fridge.
oxtail soup, hawaiian-style
3-4 lbs oxtail, trimmed of excess fat
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 large onions, chopped
2 large carrots, diced
2 large celery stalks, diced
1 head of garlic, crushed
1 piece fresh ginger (approx. 3-inches), thinly sliced
3 star anise
3 bay leaves
3 lemongrass stalks, cut and crushed
or 1 piece dried orange peel
or 6 lemon leaves
water or chicken stock (about 3 to 4 quarts)
garnish (use all, or choose as you wish):
mustard greens, cut into 1/4-inch strips
thinly sliced red onion
chili water/hot pepper flakes
place oxtails, sesame oil, salt and pepper in bowl; toss to coat. let it marinate for about an hour.
in a large stockpot, add about a quarter-inch of cooking oil. brown the marinated oxtails over medium-high heat; remove the meat from the pot, and set aside. Add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic to the pot, and sauté until the onions are translucent. return the oxtails to the pot, along with the ginger, star anise, bay leaves, and lemongrass. add enough water or chicken stock to cover the meat completely; bring to a boil. turn down the heat, and simmer for approximately 2 hours; skim off any fat or scum that rises to the surface. When the meat is fork-tender, remove the oxtails, and strain the soup into a clean saucepan; discard the boiled vegetables and spices. skim the fat off the soup, return the oxtail to the pot, and bring to a simmer. serve with garnishes of your choice.